“Far towards the western day, / Manheimʼs towers softened lay” (MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—Then as now, looking westward when standing on the K√∂nigstuhl, the high hill that rises above the town of Heidelberg and that supports the castle ruins, one can see Mannheim in the distance. The artist James Mathews Leigh (1808–60), visiting Heidelberg in the early 1830s, described the view from the botanical garden on the castle grounds: “the travellerʼs vision embraces one of the most exquisite views in Europe. Before him is the venerable ruin, rearing its still majestic form on a commanding height. . . . Beyond the town a broad evening shadow mingles the river with the surrounding plain; and it is only when the eye has wandered amongst the dark objects which intersect the valley in every direction, that it again detects in the distance the silvery thread, gracefuly winding till it is lost in the ample Rhine at Mannheim. The course of the ‘Vater Rhein’ may, perchance, be faintly traced, and beyond may be dimly seen the plain and the mountains of Rhenish Bavaria, which form the horizon of this exquisite picture” (Leigh, Rhenish Album, 355–56).


Heidelberg his ruins lone / Reared colossally / All begirt with mighty trees / Whistling with the evens breeze / Flapping faintly by” (MS VIII; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—Heidelberg Castle. In 1833, Frances Trollope (1779–1863) likewise described the drama of the scene: “hills, or rather mountains, covered with dark forests, rise suddenly from the waterʼs edge on either side, and you are again in the midst of the wild heights of the Bergstrosse [i.e., the Bergstrasse, a mountain road, anciently a trade route, running north and south between the Rhine lowlands and the Odenwald heights]. . . . It is on the right hand height that the majestic ruins of Heidelberg Castle hang in mid‐air” (Trollope, Belgium and Western Germany in 1833, 1:260–61).


“All the lovely valley bright / We were looking oer, / With its silver river bending / Vineyards to its banks descending” (MS VIII; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—The Neckar valley. Again Mrs. Trollope: “Heidelberg is placed at the point where the Necker [i.e., the Neckar River] emerges from the narrow valley through which it has run from its source, and whence it flows through a flat rich plain till it joins the Rhine at Mannheim. . . . Here and there [along the narrow road beside the river], indeed, a hollow recess gives space for a little villa, with its hanging garden; and on the left, as you ascend the river, a few vines find room to grow; but these often give place to rocks, with their frequent quarries” (Trollope, Belgium and Western Germany in 1833, 1:260–61).


“Such as iron Richard led, / . . . / Worthy foe of Saladin” (MS VIII; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—In the so–called Third Crusade (1189–92) to recapture Jerusalem, the conflict between Richard I, king of England (Richard Coeur de Lion [1157–99]), and Saladin (1137–93), sultan of Egypt and Syria.


“Most beautiful are the paths which scale the face of the hill which is crowned by the castle of Heidelberg” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—Frances Trollope, traveling in the same year as did the Ruskins, explained that “there are two approaches to the castle; one, by a fair smooth path, sheltered by noble trees, and gradually leading above the tops of those which grow on the hill‐side, till at length the level space behind the castle and in front of the great gateway is reached; the other is by a steep flight of steps into the very heart of the fortress, through a vast, subterranean, vaulted hall. . . . Take which route you will, there is no danger of the highest‐wrought expectations being disappointed. By the first, you will wind round the base of towers, which look as if a giant architect had reared them for a giant prince . . . and both lead to a terrace, from whence a view is seen, so much beyond what the power of words can paint, that all the most faithful traveller can say, to any purpose, on the subject is, ‘Go, all, with as little delay as possible, and look at it.’ . . . On reaching the esplanade, before the chief entrance, you have no very extended view; for the lofty summit of the Geissberg is on one side, and the wide‐spreading castle on the other; but, on passing under this portal, and crossing the court‐yard, you reach another archway, which leads to the grand north terrace, acknowledged to be one of the finest points of view in Europe” (Trollope, Belgium and Western Germany in 1833, 1:262–63). The latter viewpoint is the one described by James Mathews Leigh in the gloss above.


“brake” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—bracken.


“embouchure” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—“The mouth of a river or creek. Also transf”., as Ruskin is using the word here, “the opening out of a valley into a plain” (“embouchure, 1”. OED Online, accessed 16 January 2015).


“The castle of Heidelberg is exceeding desolate. Armies have razed its foundations, the thunder hath riven its towers and there is no sound in its courts, and the wind is still in the open galleries” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—In his 1836 guidebook to the Continent, John Murray III introduces his account of Heidelberg with the reminder that “[f]ew cities in Europe have experienced to a greater extent, or more frequently, the horrors of war, than the ill‐starred Heidelberg. Previous to the Thirty Yearsʼ War, it displayed in its buildings all the splendour arising from nourishing commerce and the residence of the Court of the Electors Palatine of the Rhine. It has been five times bombarded, twice laid in ashes, and thrice taken by assault and delivered over to pillage”. Of the castle in particular, Murray wonders at the “architectural magnificence which it still displays, after having been three times burnt, and having ten times experienced the horrors of war. Its final destruction was owing to its having been struck by lightning in 1764: and since the total conflagration which ensued, it has never been restored or tenanted. It is at present only, a collection of red stone walls, and has remained roofless for nearly a century” (Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 430, 432).


“When Marshal Turenne attacked the castle in question” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—The larger context of this particular attack on the castle lay in the wars waged by Louis XIV (1638–1715) to secure borders and achieve glory in the aftermath of the declining Hapsburg Empire, which was now divided between its Spanish line and its German line—the latter represented by Louisʼs rival, the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I (1640–1705). On one border, France was threatened by the Spanish Netherlands. From this region, rivers flowed southward into France; and to guard against that path of invasion, France maintained a series of fortresses. On another border, France was threatened by the German Hapsburgs via the Rhine and Moselle valleys. In this region, the French did control Alsace as a legacy of the Thirty Yearsʼ War, and additional security had been secured through the diplomacy of Louis XIVʼs boyhood minister, Cardinal Mazarin (1602–61), who forged an alliance with neutral German states that countered the rival Hapsburg influence in the Rhine valley. On reaching maturity, Louis abandoned Mazarinʼs diplomacy, however, and sought instead to secure this northern border militarily (Lynn, The Wars of Louis XIV, 1–16).
Within this larger context, the conflict to which Ruskin refers was the second of Louisʼs wars for glory, the Dutch War (1672–78), in which Henri de la Tour dʼAuvergne, Vicomte Turenne, the Marshal of France (1611–75), distinguished himself. In a conflict prior to the Dutch War, the War of Devolution (1667–68), Louis had laid claim to parts of the Spanish Netherlands on the grounds that these holdings had “devolved” on his Spanish queen. To the immediate north of the Spanish Netherlands, the Dutch Republic became alarmed by Louisʼs aggression; and although the Republic had been warring with the English navy, broke off that contest to sign a treaty with Britain and Sweden, forming a Triple Alliance (1668). Louis regarded this alliance as a betrayal by the Republic, which had stood as a longtime ally against the Hapsburg power in Spanish Netherlands; and therefore, he avenged himself by launching the Dutch War directly against the Republicʼs territory. Meanwhile, he undermined the Triple Alliance of England, the Dutch Republic, and Sweden by making a secret treaty with the king of England, Charles II (1630–85). For this reason, English troops joined in the French assault on the Dutch, including the young John Churchill, the future duke of Marlborough (1650–1722), who made a name for himself in the successful breach of the Dutch fortress of Maastricht. Although the English Parliament forced Charles II to make peace with the Dutch Republic in 1674, motivated both by mercantile interests and by sympathy for Protestant Holland, some English troops under Churchillʼs command remained with the French, and they joined with the army led by Turenne, which was stationed in Alsace and the Palatinate (Lynn, The Wars of Louis XIV, 105–22).
In this year, Louisʼs attention turned to the German theater in order to protect Alsace while, if possible, capturing Franche‐Comté to the immediate south of Alsace. Louis treated Franche‐Comté, like the Spanish Netherlands, as a Spanish Hapsburg inheritance that was owing to him. But Louis met resistance in the region from Leopold I, who was allied with the Dutch, and who turned Imperial forces against France. Meanwhile, the German Protestant Palatinate, which Mazarin had drawn to the French side against the Empire, was turning against Louis and his armies owing to Turenneʼs occupation of the region between the Neckar and the Rhine. In June 1674, Turenne led a battle against Imperial forces up to the gates of Heidelberg, the seat of the Elector of the Palatinate. In the summer months following, he laid waste to the Neckar valley, pillaging to supply his troops, and burning villages that refused to cooperate (Lynn, The Wars of Louis XIV, 122–35).
In Louisʼs ongoing wars, the suffering of the Palatinate continued to stand as symbol for the perceived ruthlessness of the French. In 1688–89, at the onset of the Nine Yearsʼ War (1688–97)—the same period in which Louisʼs old enemy, William of Orange and Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, supplanted his father‐in‐law, James II, as king of EnglandLouis took defensive measures against the Dutch‐Imperial alliance by adopting a scorched‐earth campaign in the Palatinate. The objective was to prevent an enemy army from being able to support itself in the region. This brutal destruction was not unique in Louisʼs wars, but “the devastation of the Palatinate . . . burned itself into the European conscience”, and became, according to a modern historian, “one of the influences that inspired Europeans to try to make the conduct of war more restrained and humane in the eighteenth century” (Lynn, The Wars of Louis XIV, 199, and see 191–99).
For this reason, combined with entrenched suspicion of France and support for Protestant Europe, British feeling evidently could still be stirred in the nineteenth century by signs of the desolation of the Palatinate, such as the ruins of Heidelberg Castle. Indignation animates John Murray IIIʼs 1836 guidebook description of the repeated attacks leading to the castleʼs ruin: “In 1674, the Elector, Charles Louis [1617–80], incurred the displeasure of Louis XIV; and a French army, under Turenne, was in consequence let loose upon the Palatinate, carrying slaughter and desolation before them. The Elector beheld with distress, from the castle in which he had shut himself up, the inroads of foreign troops, and flame and smoke rising up along the plain from burning towns and villages. Unable to oppose the French with equal force at the head of an army, but anxious to avenge the wrongs of his country, he resolved, in a spirit which some may deem Quixotic, others chivalrous, to endeavour to end the contest with his own sword; and accordingly he sent a cartel to Marshal Turenne, challenging him to single combat. The French general returned a civil answer, hut did not accept it. The ambition of Louis XIV led him, on the death of the Elector, to lay claim to the Palatinate on behalf of [his younger brother,] the Duke of Orleans [1640–1701, whose second marriage was to the daughter of Elector Charles Louis], and another French army, more wicked than the first, was marched across the Rhine. Heidelberg was taken and burnt, 1688 [the onset of the Nine Yearsʼ War], by [Compte de] Mélac [1630–1704], a general whose brutality and cruelty surpassed that of [the Count of] Tilly [1559–1632, known for the sacking and massacre of the Protestant German city of Magdeburg in 1631, during the Thirty Yearsʼ War]. But it was at the following siege under [the Marquis de] Chamilly [1636–1715], in 1693, that it was reserved for the French to display the most merciless tyranny, and practise excesses worthy of fiends rather than men, upon the town and its inhabitants, paralleled only in the French Revolution, and which will ever render the name of Frenchman odious in the Palatinate. The castle was betrayed through the cowardice or treachery of the governor, with the garrison, and many of the townspeople who had fled to it for refuge. The cruelty of the treatment they met with was, in this instance, heightened by religious intolerance, and no mercy was shown to the Protestants. On this occasion the castle was entirely destroyed” (Murray, Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 430).
Like Murray, the editors of the Library Edition note that Heidelberg Castle “was in fact taken by Count Mélac, who reduced the castle to ruins in 1689, fourteen years after the death of Turenne”, correcting Ruskinʼs passing reference to the Marshal of France. But the accuracy of Ruskinʼs knowledge about this military history is less interesting than his deflection of a topic, which drew such indignation from Murray, into drollery about wine casks.


“And the celebrated butt sounds mournfully hollow” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—The giant Heidelberg Tun, “the largest wine cask in the world”, Murray notes, “being capable of holding 800 hogsheads, 283,200 bottles”. Murray is unimpressed by a capacity that “is less, after all, than the dimensions of the porter vat of a London brewer”, but he admits to the picturesque scene in “former days, when the Tun was filled with the produce of the vintage, [and] it was usual to dance on the platform on the top”. By the time of the Ruskinsʼ visit, the tun was hollow, having “remained empty since 1769, more than half a century” (Murray,Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 432–33).


“vinum” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—wine (Lat.).